New: Book Report: Hackers and Painters

It's a bunch of essays by Paul Graham about software development and other kinds of development. Some of these essays are interesting, some are irritating. They're interesting because Paul has a well-spoken, cranky take on many topics. They're irritating because he attributes his opinions to all computers geeks. "We hackers know this." "We hackers think that." There were plenty of times when I thought "I agree with this sentiment", but there were also plenty of times when I thought "What do you mean 'we'?"

I don't believe in absolute Quality with a capital Q. I don't believe it's the genius of creative people is to discern that Quality. If I wanted to read about Quality, I could go read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle maintenance. In that book, the Quality-delusion is attributed to an insane person, not to me. Thus, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is less irritating than Hackers and Painters. I'm not a Libertarian. I'm not. I'm glad that other languages have stolen cool features from LISP, but I don't especially want to code in LISP ever again. There are plenty of places where foreach makes more sense than recursion does; I'm glad your language is optimized to not blow stack on tail recursion, but if your language supported a foreach loop, you wouldn't have to worry about that @^*% in the first place.

Now that I go back and flip through the book, looking for something nice to say about it, I keep thinking "Oh, this was just a rant" and "Someone else said it better". So I'm not sure what good things I can say about the book--which is strange because I did enjoy reading it. I guess I enjoyed it because it touches on topics that interest me.

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Posted 2009-03-11

 Dan said...

Are you familiar with this critique?

11 March, 2009 22:05
 lahosken said...

Aw, the painting stuff was wrong, too? I wasn't guarding my brain against that; who knows how much misinformation is rattling around in there now.

The comparison to ESR is apt. I had deja vu when I was thinking, "Wait, I'm not a libertarian."

12 March, 2009 06:52